eMusic Gives You Less! (But Still More Than iTunes); Artists Still Screwed, of Course

It seems that all good things must either pass or worsen over time. eMusic, one of the world's better digital music retailers, has announced that they are reducing the amount of downloads you get with your monthly subscription.

Starting next month (just in time for Christmas!), eMusic will be offering MP3 downloads to their new subscribers at $0.33 or less per track, depending on which subscription the user chooses. Prior to the price increase, the same tracks would have cost $0.25 or less. The Basic package used to offer 40 tracks, and is being cut to 30, while the Plus and Premium packages are both being cut by 15 tracks per month.

Current eMusic subscribers, as well as those who sign up in the next few weeks, will continue paying the old rate.

Now, call me a picky consumer if you'd like, or even an anal accountant, but a 32% price increase seems a bit much. It's not like we're talking about copper commodities; these are less-than CD-quality digital files, with no inherit value other than sheer convenience and/or affordability (after all, you can't beat buying a copy of Yanqui U.X.O. for $1.00, can you?).

That said, with all the other greedy, DRM-happy music services such as iTunes, eMusic is still one of the best services out there for finding new independent talent. Let's face it, there are many people in this world who don't own an iPod and prefer to be able to open their files with several different programs (i.e. Foobar2000, Quintessential, Songbird.) So while a 32% price increase seems steep, the service is still worthwhile.

Universal Music Group Still Taking the Odd Hit Of Payola Now and Then

Five months ago, Universal shelled out $12 million to New York charities after being slapped firmly on the ass with accusations of payola. The settlement also introduced a rule that prohibits any label execs from purchasing radio ads containing more than 60 seconds of a song, since independent tracking services could potentially count this as actual airplay, rather than as a dirty, dirty, fat-cat trick. However, if Universal really wants to try it out, all it has to do is give written notice.

And so, as if possessed by a spirit of good will and fairness, some labels distributed by Universal have recently taken up the practice of, well, purchasing radio ads containing more than 60 seconds of a song. Blackground Records used this method last week to boost JoJo's "Too Little, Too Late" to the no. 2 slot on the U.S. pop charts. In the previous week, Roadrunner Records, another label associated with Universal, bought ads that launched Nickelback's "Far Away" up to no. 1. Written notice of these purchases was provided, but it was on a bathroom wall at Universal's corporate headquarters, and was written in shit. Another sign that something was awry in the charts was the fact that no one, in any country, has ever heard either of these songs.

The "ball" is now in New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer's "court." Will Spitzer make a "slam dunk" and tighten up the settlement? Will he "call a foul" on Universal's shady practices? Will he continue efforts to "Shaq"-kle corporate criminals? Will he "chase a player around the court with a bucket of water and then toss it into the crowd, revealing that the bucket was actually filled with confetti"?

Check back in the coming weeks for any further developments on Nickelback.

Danielson Further Alienate My Christian Friends, Tour Europe

Lou Barlow is all grows up! He's grows up and he's grows up and he's grows up! (Note: if you didn't find that amusing, please re-acquaint yourself with a certain filmic masterpiece by the name of Swingers. Thanks.) But listen, really. He's got a wife & kids and a nice little place in Massachusetts, and you know who the heck comes by to talk new songs and a NEW TOUR!? Ohh, it's beautiful: Murph and J Mascis. Whether or not they also come bearing fruit baskets is unconfirmed at the time of press.

All you sniffling indie kids dreaming of injecting "Oh yeah, last week at that Dinosaur Jr. concert... " into everyday conversation? Prayers answered. It's a tease of a tour, but it's been 15 long years since Dinosaur Jr. threw a bunch of tantrums and broke up. I don't know about you, but this feels like Christmas.

Pssst. Pavement. Take a hint and live up to your "active" status on the Matador roster:

11.27.2006 - Portland, ME - The Big Easy
11.28.2006 - Portland, ME - The Big Easy
11.29.2006 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
11.30.2006 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street
12.01.2006 - New York, NY - Rebel
12.02.2006 - New York, NY - Rebel

Danielson Further Alienate My Christian Friends, Tour Europe

In this month's Rolling Stone, The Dec.ists have a multi-page article. The Hold Steady have a big, glossy photo. Joanna Newsom's harpistry is praised.

In a time when the line between "indie rockers" and "mainstream tit suckers" is increasingly indistinct, Danielson continues to carry his quirky cross up to the treacherous Golgatha of popularity/cultural awareness. He is willing to sacrifice coherency for the salvation of art, knowing that if we strike him down, he will only become more possible than we can possibly imagine. One can only pray that even after the Stone is rolled away and all the Ships have been sunk, the robe-garbed specter of their unabashed freakiness will help us to know when to turn off the instrument panel and rock out.

Mixed Metaphors Are The New Black:

11.22.06 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - VPRO 3 voor 12 radiosession
11.23.06 - Brussels, Belgium - AB-Box w/ Woven Hand
11.24.06 - Antwerpe, Belgium - Trix w/ Long Winters
11.25.06 - Liege, Belgium - L'Escalier
11.26.06 - Lille, France - La Malterie
11.27.06 - Brighton, England - Komedia
11.28.06 - Bristol, England - Thekla
11.29.06 - Manchester, England - Klondyke Club
11.30.06 - Glasgow, Scotland - King Tuts $
12.01.06 - Hull, United Kingdom - The Adelphi Club $
12.02.06 - Nottingham, England - The Social $
12.03.06 - London, England - The Luminaire $
12.04.06 - Rouen, France - L'Emporium $
12.05.06 - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie $
12.06.06 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso $
12.07.06 - Utrecht, Netherlands - Theater Kikker $
12.08.06 - Darmstadt, Germany - Oetinger Villa $
12.09.06 - St. Gallen, Switzerland - Palace $
12.10.06 - Dudingen, Switzerland - Bad Bonn $
12.11.06 - Lyon, France - Grrrnd Zero $
12.12.06 - Barcelona, Spain - La 2 $
12.13.06 - Bilbao, Spain - Azkena $
12.14.06 - Bordeaux, France - Son'art $
12.15.06 - Den Haag, Netherlands - State X New Forms w/ Sonic Youth

$ w/ Jeffrey Lewis

The Good (band members), The Bad (the band name), and The Queen (an unrelated fading symbol of British aristocratic power)

So Damon Albarn's at it again. He doesn't seem to realize that he's best when surrounded by the people who know him best – including Graham Coxon. Instead of reuniting with the apparently still active (in the volcanic sense) Blur, however, he's decided that even the semi-anonymity of Gorillaz is not allowing him to fully realize his creative ambitions, and he's united some creamily good musicians who are willing to indulge in his delusions of grandeur.

And it's quite a team he's got together: Tony Allen, renowned drummer from Africa 70 and Fela Kuti; Simon Tong, underrated guitarist from The Verve (and, for this newswriter's money, the best thing about them); and Paul Simonon from The Effin’ Clash. Clearly Damon has been in the pub, playing that game where you build fictional supergroups, except he actually has the panache and draw to make it happen in reality. Not that I'm jealous or anything.

Anyway, despite the obvious potential in the group, the gig that the band performed at Camden Roundhouse as part of the BBC's Electric Proms line-up, featuring their entire album in order, showed that Damon is still the undisputed frontman of this little collective. At one point, he made the band restart a song twice, demonstrating a continued desire to prove the band's relevance and ability.

Whatever one might think of Albarn, this is certainly an interesting venture, and one that might well turn out roses. It's always good to see someone unwilling to rest on laurels, whether pixelated or merely blurred.

Allofmp3.com: Cheaper Than Ever!

When we last left our valiant hero, Allofmp3.com was doing pretty well for itself. Eating hamburgers, selling music, smacking bitches, pimping it, etc. And the rest of us were rejoicing by downloading music for hella-cheap and smacking additional bitches. Yeah life sure was swell for everyone involved. Except possibly the bitches.

But now the bitches are getting a little uppity. Seems that selling music at prices that don't suck the lifeblood out of consumers just isn’t fair. The World Trade Organization hasn't let Russia into their club partly because of Allofmp3 (Groucho refused to join). That rejection was followed by some more bad news: Visa stopped honoring purchases made on the site. Then the one-two punch: Mastercard jumped on Visa's bandwagon and a Danish (mmmm...) court ordered an internet service provider to stop allowing access to Allofmp3.com.

But, never one to back down, Allof Oyl is now offering free music downloads. The tracks were meant to only be allowed to play in the Allofmp3 player, but it looks like some little hooligan has delivered a little Halloween present for us all with a way to get rid of all the restrictions on the free downloads. So now, instead of having a chance to make some money from an online music store, the record industry is left to contend with a website offering the best in free downloads. Smooth move, Exlax.

  

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